It was a dark and cold Saturday evening – the first winter storm of the 2021 – when my text message alert went off. The text message was simple, “Are you the ring finder?” I answered affirmatively. Sam Owen’s wife had just lost her wedding ring, in a snow storm, at 4200 feet in elevation at the Sunriver Resort.
I suggested that he call. Emily, his wife, was quick to respond. On the phone, she told me that they were vacationing at the Oregon resort, playing in the snow behind the vacation home, building snowmen and having snowball fights, when she realized her wedding ring was missing. She was reasonably certain that it was in a specific area…they really hadn’t gone anywhere else during the day.
It was already dark at 545pm. The snow had started in earnest about an hour prior. There was more than an inch on the ground at my house, 45 minutes away. Sunriver is significantly higher in elevation than my home in Sisters, Oregon. The National Weather Service Advisory said expect 11-21 inches of snow and wind gusts to 50 miles per hour from 4pm to 10am. Time was definitely not on our side. In addition, I was booked at an educational event all the next day.
I told Emily I’d make the trek to Sunriver this evening, that it was probably the best chance of finding the ring promptly. She seemed relieved that we could jump on it quickly. I hurriedly grabbed my gear and headed to Sunriver.
The drive to Sunriver was harrowing…3-4 inches of heavy shush covered most of the roadway. Oregon Department of Transportation was obviously having trouble keeping up with the heavy snowfall. Traffic was moving slowly and slush streams from approaching semi-trucks were cascading over the divided center median into on oncoming traffic. It took a long hour to arrive.
Emily greeted us on the street. Sunriver had more snow than my house, probably 4-5 inches and accumulating fast, and definitely colder due to the elevation. The temperature was 23 degrees and falling rapidly. I pulled out my gear and fired it up. Emily gave us a quick lay-of-the-land.
The remnants of the snowman were easy to spot – a crumbly pile of compacted snowman parts now strewn in a lose pile as if met by tackling dummy practice during the snowball fight. The rest of the area was open, blanketed by several inches of fresh now…and more coming down by the minute.
I focused on the snowman first – back and forth, up and down. I thought I might get lucky. Generally,
lost rings are found in the area with the most activity. Certainly, the building of the snowman took more effort than the other activities. No luck!
So, I began a grid pattern. Up and down, across the open space. 6 feet paths, back and forth. Making sure to overlap both the swing of my coil and the median between my journey east and back to the west. Wow, a lot of metal in the ground. I could hear bottle caps, coins, pull tabs and sprinkler heads. This open space was obviously a well-used, grassy area during the warm summer months. This winter night however, the ground under the snow was frozen solid. It was easy to sweep the snow away and re-swing the area to see if the target was still there. If it was, it meant is was buried in the frozen earth and not the target we were looking for. Our target would be in the soft snow, or lying on top of the frozen ground.
Back and forth. 6 foot swaths. Up, down and up again. The temperature was dropping and my hands were starting to tingle even though I was using gloves. Back to the east, then the west again, making sure to overlap swings. Brushing snow away intermittently to check a target here and there. I was covering and area the size of a small soccer field.
Thud – goes my detector. Thud, thud, thud. Gold makes a significant sound. Not a high-pitched ring or chime like you’d expect…that’s silver or aluminum. It a thud. A somewhat dull mid-tone, but heavy.
Yes, there it is, again, again. Thud, thud, thud. I didn’t have to sweep this time. In fact, I didn’t want to sweep and risk damaging the ring. I bent down with my pin pointer and quickly located the source, excitedly. With the other had a plunged for a handful of snow and checked it with my pin pointer…yes, it was in my hand now.
Quickly crumbling the snow in my hand let most of the lose snow fall between my fingers and revealed a beautiful, ice-encrusted white gold pave ring with beautiful center stone. As I handed it back to Emily she was speechless, giddy and questioning – all at the same time…it was a stutter in disbelieve, “Did you, is that….REALLY!!!! Oh my.”
It’s always fun to return a lost item to the owner – especially something with as much sentimental value as a wedding ring. They are always hugely appreciative, often having given up hope of ever seeing it again. Often, I’m certain, I’m as excited as they are.
The trip home in on the snow-hazard roadways was uneventful. I nice leisurely drive, unlike the initial rush to beat the elements. Time to decompress, warm my hand and be thankful that another item of significant, and intrinsic value was not lost forever.
Congratulations Sam and Emily. I often feel that when I am successful finding a lost wedding ring it means you have a beautiful and lasting marriage.